Metabolic Syndrome Rates Differ by Race, Ethnicity in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

The highest prevalence of metabolic syndrome in women with polycystic ovary syndrome in the United States occurred in black women.

Metabolic syndrome prevalence in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) appears to vary on the basis of race and ethnicity, according to recent research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Researchers analyzed 1089 women (mean age, 28) with PCOS from 5 different outpatient clinics in the United States, Brazil, Finland, Norway, and India between 1999 and 2016. Patients were measured for metabolic syndrome and its components, including body mass index (BMI), fasting glucose, fasting high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), fasting triglycerides (TG), and blood pressure.


The highest incidence of metabolic syndrome in US women occurred in black women (odds ratio [OR], 4.52; 95% CI, 2.46-8.35), but the researchers noted the prevalence was similar between black and white women after adjusting for age and BMI. Compared with white women, significantly more black women had reached outcomes for BMI and blood pressure (P <.001), whereas few met the criteria for fasting TGs (P <.05).

Outside the United States, women from India had the highest rate of clinical hyperandrogenism, as measured by mean Ferriman-Gallwey scores (15.6±6.5; P <.001), as well as the highest incidence of metabolic syndrome (OR, 6.53; 95% CI, 3.47-12.30). Norwegian women had a high incidence of abnormalities in glucose and fasting HDL-C (OR, 2.16; 95% CI, 1.17-3.98). Both group findings were determined after adjusting for age and BMI. 

In contrast, women from Brazil and Finland had a similar prevalence of metabolic syndrome as white women from the United States, independent of obesity.

“Our findings highlight the need for complete metabolic screening in…reproductive age women with PCOS in order to identify specific targets for intervention,” the researchers concluded.

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